Open records at LRSD | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Open records at LRSD

Posted By on Tue, May 13, 2008 at 6:17 AM

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has issued an opinion on the Freedom of Information Act as it pertains to e-mail among members of the Little Rock School Board. Read it here.

In short, he said, in response to a question from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, that a standing FOI request, prospectively, for these e-mails is not a valid FOI request. The e-mails, once sent, are open for inspection. He cautions that e-mail discussions among board members could amount to a private board meeting and thus run afoul of the FOI law's requirement for notice of meetings and public participation.

Close readers probably know that this FOI request -- and I made a similar one long ago -- grew out of the Arkansas Blog's pipeline to many of these communications. They have been on topics that have sometimes been of great news value. Competitive motivation aside in the newspaper's request for an opinion, it's important to remember that this case highlights a practice that is epidemic throughout Arkansas government.

Members of boards and commissions talk to each other outside of meetings about public business via e-mail. It is a meeting of two board members to discuss public business no less than a face-to-face meeting would be. These discussions -- sometimes by means of e-mails sent to boards as a group -- amount to private meetings at which decisions on public business are formed, if not formally made. It was a method of communication not invented, much less contemplated, when the FOI law was shaped.

So, while the issue here is LRSD -- and it is a proper cause for concern -- don't believe that it is the only agency where the practice is occurring.

This issue may be the subject of legislative battles in the future. In the short run, perhaps reporters can FOI public bodies daily for messages sent the preceding day.

Noted: I'm aware of this news because I was supplied with a copy of the e-mail about McDaniel's opinion. I don't believe the D-G has written about this opinion yet, or its request for it.

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • The assault weapon open line

    The open line. And report of the arrest of a man with an AR-15 who threatened to shoot people at a Springdale business.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • A primary challenger for Rep. Laurie Rushing

    Blue Hog Report has some news on a Republican primary challenge of an incumbent legislator, Rep. Laurie Rushing, by Ernie Hinz of Hot Springs.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • A common-sense gun measure draws no sponsors from Arkansas

    Republicans, including at least one from Arkansas, are talking about repealing the Dickey Amendment which prohibits gun research from a public health perspective. But none of them are yet willing to DO anything about it.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Deputy killed, police chief wounded in Sebastian County. Suspect in custody

    40/29 TV reports that two law officers were shot about 7 a.m. today near Hackett in Sebastian County and at mid-afternoon came word that one of them had died. Later in the day a suspect was taken into custody in the shooting.
    • Aug 10, 2016
  • French Hill votes against disaster aid to Puerto Rico

    Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill alone among Arkansas's House delegation voted last week against a measure that provided $36.5 billion in disaster aid, a portion  for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico as well as money for wildfire response and to support the flood insurance program.
    • Oct 14, 2017
  • 'Million-Dollar Thursday': A visit to Sherwood's hot check court

    We take a visit to the weekly hot check court in Sherwood District Court, the subject of a recent civil rights lawsuit filed by ACLU Arkansas and others, who say the system there results in a modern-day debtor's prison
    • Aug 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation